The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a day of prayer on Monday, December 12, with a focus on the plight of refugees and migrants in our country. The 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom the Church honors with the title Patroness of the Americas. Saint John XXIII invoked her as the Mother of the Americas referring to her as Mother and Teacher of the Faith to all the populations of our continent.
May our prayers on Mary’s feast day bring before God the hopes, fears and needs of all those families and individuals who have come to the United States seeking a better life. Through the intercession of Mary, our loving Mother to whom we raise our prayers, may refugees and immigrants experience the love of God and come to know our concern for their well-being. May Mary teach us how to support and encourage refugees and immigrants in America.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles recently said, “So many families are wondering how changes to immigration policy might impact them. We want them to know that the church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the national, diocesan, and state levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf.”
I have asked all of our pastors at the daily Masses in the parishes on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to make use of the materials they have received from the diocese. In our parishes where Our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated with solemnity and outdoor processions in which many faithful participate, there is an opportunity to bring before these communities the concern of our church for migrants and refugees.
Our Lady of Guadalupe brought her message of love and peace to an indigenous farmer in Mexico today known as Saint Juan Diego, and called on him to share that message with church leaders. Inspired by her example in these modern times, our church brings the message of Guadalupe to our country, proclaiming that God loves the poor who have come to our country because of the disastrous economic conditions in their native lands. Though the contemporary world circumstances are unique, it was out of similar economic desperation that my European ancestors and those of many of us came to America.
Our church invites us on Monday the 12th to offer prayers for those who come to our country either fleeing government cruelty and war or seeking to improve their lives and that of their families. Our holy Mother asks us to receive them as family, sisters and brothers, in the very same way she received Saint Juan Diego. Our church, faithful to the Gospel mandate of “whatsoever you do for the least among us you do for me,” teaches us to show the concern of Jesus Christ to refugees and migrants.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.